My Watermark is Lake Ontario.
About seven years ago, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I rode my bike to the Leslie Street Spit on Lake Ontario. The moment I got there I was taken away by how remote the place was and how beautiful and natural it was with all the birds and all the marsh. I reached the end point where the lighthouse is, I set my bike aside and went for a walk. I saw this beautiful looking beach with red sand. And I thought that was strange, as I had never seen a red sand beach before. I then realized that it wasn’t actually sand but bricks - so the whole experience was a little shattered for me. How did we have this beautiful park with all these bricks being dumped there?
There was something there for me that I didn’t really understand, I was shocked that in city in Toronto we had a place like that, that was so natural and people were dumping bricks.
I began going to that site quite often, because there was something that brought me back to being home. There was some feeling that connected me to some places that I grew up in Brazil, I felt at ease. I could see the city from a safe distance but I couldn’t hear it anymore, I was immersed in nature, but I wasn’t sure what the Leslie Street Spit actually was. That ended up being the subject for a one year thesis for my graduation research project at OCAD university. I went back there once a week during the course of a year, I started reading and speaking with people in government and friends of Leslie Spit organization. To understand how that place came to be and why it was the way it was. Once I understood it was part of this urban project to build another port there in the 60s and 70s, then everything started to make sense. I tried going during the day and the site is actually a dump site during the day. It was challenging for me to understand that this place where I can explore and be so free, at other times operates as a dump site.
In the end, That place has been special since the first time I went there. It made me realize that nature is so powerful, that it can overcome the actions of man. We created that dump site and within a couple decades nature took over. Part of it is protected land and there is a bird sanctuary. For me, it is one of the more beautiful places in Toronto. I bike there, I run there I stand up paddleboard there. I take people on SUP tours there and I tell them about the history.
There is a lot of garbage that washes onto the bird sanctuary in Fall in Winter, and it is alarming the amount of plastic containers. So I bring garbage bags when I stand up paddleboard there, and I bring my friends there and we remove as much garbage as we can.